Observing Sunderland – Pete Sixsmith’s mid term review

Salut! Sunderland is the website that others increasingly turn to for opinions and analysis and once again the Observer newspaper asked Pete Sixsmith for his thoughts on the season so far. Here’s what he sent them but you’ll have to buy the paper to see if they print them.

Pete dreaming of watching his club at Wembley. That would be Shildon then.


Performances have been well below what many of us hoped for and we are involved in a relegation struggle. The football has been dull and the home game with Queens Park Rangers reached new depths for unimaginative, turgid football. We have rarely imposed ourselves on a game and once we go a goal behind, the result is a foregone conclusion. A charitable mark would be 3/10.

Simon Mignolet has been the one bright spot. Our Belgian keeper has rarely made an error, despite playing behind a defence that appears to love giving opponents a goal start. Should the unimaginable happen, there will be a queue of top notch clubs looking to add him to their squads. Danny Rose has been another player who has triumphed in the face of adversity – but he’s not ours.

On the other hand, Adam Johnson has been a major disappointment and has not made the transition from occasional player at the League Champions to regular player at a (I wish) mid table club. He needs to show that he can have some influence on a game – we haven’t seen any evidence of that yet. James McClean is struggling to recapture last seasons form. Carlos Cuellar and John O’Shea are creaking at the back.

Jake celebrates Jimmy Mac finding his goalscoring touch against Reading

Martin O’Neill was a popular choice twelve months ago and still retains the backing of most fans but 5 out of 10 is about the score he would get. He needs to bring in an authoritative centre half and a midfielder with a bit of pace. Michael Dawson, perhaps? Maybe James McCarthy? A Ukrainian or Belgian keen to make an impact?

As for football losing its soul, I would wholeheartedly agree. Terry, Suarez, Serbia, huge inequalities at the top, Blatter, Barton et al push me more and more towards Northern League football and Rugby League. You just get the feeling that the top end of the game has become a huge sewer – what you put into it is what you get out of it.

Colin Randall disguised as Monsieur Salut, by Matt

See also: Monsieur Salut talks all things Sunderland at ESPN FC: http://soccernet.espn.go.com/blog/_/name/sunderland?cc=5739

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7 thoughts on “Observing Sunderland – Pete Sixsmith’s mid term review”

  1. Nice piece, hope they print it you never get the rela feel of how a club is performing until you read fans views.I take a fans view over a so called pundit any day.

    And you are right about football losing it’s soul at the top level.Id just add one more to the sorry list you gave.The story of Carlos Tevez……in this one player you can just about illustrate everything that is wrong with the game now.

  2. Sess has done very little since then though Pete. Surprisingly Gary Rowell was referring to him as “SAFC’s most in form player” in the Echo. Mr Rowell is clearly watching a different game to me.

    Bendtner was a talented waster. I should say lazy, talented waster.

  3. Harsh on Sessegnon, Jezza. He was outstanding when MON arrived – probably because Bendtner created space for him. Good player, Bendtner. Nice underpants as well.

  4. Thanks Tom for saving me the energy of having to type all those word above.

    Absolultely, absolutely and absolutely spot on.

    What I find completely bizarre is the fact the Fletcher has come in for criticism, despite the fact that he looks the most clinical finisher I’ve ever seen in a Sunderland shirt. His conversion rate for chances and even half chances is faultless. At the same time Sessegnon appears immune from criticism despite producing precious little for well over 12 months. He’s nothing more than an adornment at present. Watching us with him in the team is like going to the kitchen hungry and finding a jar of cinnamon where there should be a loaf of bread. Sorry if that sounds Cantonian in flavour but you get the drift I’m sure.

    Time for Sess to make way for the energetic and more exciting Conor Wickham for the trip to the Dell (Yeah I know it’s one of those build a kit stadium jobs!).

  5. Firstly I want MON to stay and be a success but as I’ve said before he has not been helping himself for reasons such as these:
    1] Setting us up at home like the away side on a regular basis, sitting too deep and inviting even ordinary sides to dominate us for long periods [examples: Boro, WBA, QPR]. A change in tactical outlook in the way we are set up is an absolute must.
    2] Playing the excellent Fletcher in a ridiculously isolated role for the majority of the campaign with no one within 10-15 yards or more of him for most of the time.
    3] Continually playing people out of form week in, week out which have at times included Colback, Larsson, Bardsley and McClean.
    4] Playing Larsson in central midfield regularly when he clearly has not got the athleticism or vision for this role.
    5] Failing to find a definitive role for Sessegon, a skilfull player who has too often being busy doing what exactly?
    Not many assists or goals from such a highly rated player.
    6] Week after week we never start playing until we go a goal [or two or three] down and by then its mainly too late in the harsh world of the Premiership.
    7] Ignoring Meyler’s claims in Catts absence. Meyler’s last Premiership game was Stoke away alst season when he did very well in bad conditions.
    As Sixer says we need to get some mobility, pace and footballing ability [players who can carry the ball forward] in central defence. We need a right back [and a left back if Rose returns to Spurs or moves on elsewhere], centre back, at least one central midfielder and another goalscoring striking option.
    MON has only paid money for two players and if Ellis is serious about backing him and movng us up a level, then he must give him cash to spend in January or we could go down on the evidence of current [awful] results. Although he has put good money into the club, the money we have recouped on players such as Bent, Gyan, Cana, Henderson and Jones makes the net spend conservative overall and certainly the squad is arguably not as strong overall without these players and Malbranque etc.. In The Times sports section last week, George Caulkin wrote that someone had suggested to him that Bruce had left MON with a “squad of squad players”. Spot on, surely?
    Time for some quality. Results alone make this a priority.

  6. I think you have to say that Steven Fletcher has been a success. His problem has been zero service. I believe he could be a top player with support.

    On the other side, IMO Sessegnon is a big disappointment. Superb skill, but little end product. I don’t think we have found a position for him. Maybe more effective playing wide? Hopeless in the second striker role.

    • I would like to see Sessegnon wide left with the freedom to drift in the hole. And Fletcher paired with Wickham in a 4-4-2 type formation. AJ on the right, and both him and Sess told to get the ball into the box as much as possible.
      Wickham if 6ft 4ins, and Fletcher could be the PL’s top goal scorer (via headers) if we give him the service.

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